Scene: Boots ‘n’ Cats advances to semifinals


A new a cappella startup Boots ‘n’ Cats beat out eight of its nine competitors last weekend to take second place at The International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella regional competition last weekend at Pacific Lutheran University.

The group qualified to compete in the ICCA Semifinals in April, marking the first time a Central group has done so since the competition began in 1996.

“It was a validation of all the sacrifices all the risks that we took,” Nicole Prigge, senior exercise science major, said.

Boots ‘n’ Cats officially formed and began rehearsing in October 2013, making them one of the youngest groups at the regional competition.

Prigge recalled when, before the award ceremony, a girl from the winning ensemble, HERmonic, asked how old they were, and was shocked when she heard they had only been together for six months.

All 10 ensembles were judged based on elements including vocal performance and choreography. The five judges graded each group out of 155 points, with the top and bottom scores removed from the total.

Boots ‘n’ Cats scored 361 points. By comparison, HERmonic, from PLU, scored 416 points and Central’s Nada Cantata took third with 330 points. “It wasn’t an unfortunate point spread,” Prigge said. “I don’t think there’s a lot of room for disappointment or second guessing, which is nice.”

Antonio Fernandez, Boots ‘n’ Cats’s beat boxer, also won an award for best vocal percussionist. Prigge said the judges praised him in their grading, with one judge commenting that Fernandez “must have some friends in [his] pocket,” referring to how he sounds like multiple people.

Though people would tell Fernandez in the days leading up to the ICCAs he wouldin the award, he didn’t believe them until he won. “It kinda reassured what people were telling me,” Fernandez said. “It makes me realize what level I’m at.”

Boots ‘n’ Cats also received praise for their mashup of “Cry Me a River” by Etta James and “Cry Me a River” by Justin Timberlake, which was arranged by music grad student Brennan Baglio. According to Prigge, the judges complimented the arrangement’s modern harmonies that set them apart from the other ensembles.

The group’s performance was not without problems. Due to issues with the microphone setup, Boots ‘n’ Cats had to alter all of its choreography, and leave Sarah Hemenway to sing without a microphone.

These problems, Fernandez said, helped the group focus more heavily on their performance.

“We knew we could do our best, and that’s what we did,” Fernandez said. Prigge said the best moment of their performance came at the very end during Emily’s rap solo from “Victory Lap” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, when Hemenway and Bo Mendez reprised their solos from Sara Bareilles’s “Brave” and Bruno Mars’s “Treasure,” respectively.

“It was a summary of everything we had just done,” Prigge said.

Boots ‘n’ Cats is planning a send-off for the ICCA Semifinals that would take place the week of the competition.